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OFFICIAL REMARKS BY
DATO PADUKA HAJI HAZAIR BIN HAJI ABDULLAH
PERMANENT SECRETARY, PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
AT THE 4th ASEAN-COMMITTEE ON CULTURE AND INFORMATION
SUB-COMMITTEE MEETING ON INFORMATION
10 SEPTEMBER 2002

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
And a Very Good Morning to all

[Salutations]

Mr. Chairman,

Honoured Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Brunei Darussalam to participate in the 4th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information’s Sub-Committee on Information. I also hope that you would be able to enjoy the country during your short stay here.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Barely 2 years into the new millennia, there have been significant happenings in the global world. The 9/11 tragedy, the uncertain economic future of the region and globally have made for a very uncertain future. Yet this is on top of the crises that we have had to face – the financial crisis and our continuing social and environmental problems.

Despite ASEAN’s efforts in making real progress in recovering from the financial crisis of 1997, it still faces enormous difficulties. It still faces the full implications of globalisation and ever-increasing competition. The effects of transnational crime and terrorism are real and devastating. We faced many other challenges too. Among others, the yawning digital divide between our member states and within our societies, but equally challenging is how we can act together to put right and balance the negative image and perception of ASEAN outside the region.

However, since its inception thirty years ago, ASEAN has responded well to many difficult challenges. This was encapsulated in the speech by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the opening of the recent ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Brunei Darussalam. Time and again, it has demonstrated its resilience. This reflected well the commitment of ASEAN member countries towards cooperation as well as its many common understandings. But that also mean that we must move equally rapidly. We have to be sure that events outside our control do not affect our ability to attract investment and gain access to markets. Investment must continue to flow into our region. In many cases, ASEAN must win back the confidence and trust of investors.

But to do that, ladies and gentlemen, ASEAN must have strategies. In many cases ASEAN must win back the confidence and its attractiveness from the investors. We have to stress our region’s capability, potentials and strengths. We have to inform them that ASEAN has never deviated or mellowed in its unity and solidarity.

At the same time, we must look inwards too. We have to ask whether the ASEAN people believe in the capabilities and strengths of ASEAN? And what precisely does our association mean to the people and the region we represent?

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As the information professionals, you all have a crucial role to play in fulfilling the ASEAN Vision and to inform the outside world and the ASEAN people about ASEAN and its strengths and capabilities. Over the course of the next two days, I hope that you produce practical outcome to respond to the ASEAN needs and fulfill the COCI’s mandate to promote awareness of ASEAN, to vigorously develop an awareness of ASEAN identity and to exert effort to create a strong ASEAN community.

A stronger sense of unity through understanding and respect of each other’s culture and diversity is what is needed now in order to sustain the existing peace and stability in the region. I believe that COCI can play a greater role in this aspect of bridging closer ties among the peoples of ASEAN through various cultural exchanges and activities. The Communication Plan that has been implemented must be given higher priority but it should also be evaluated from time to time to ensure its effectiveness. Effective communication programs will be effective tools in instilling confidence among international investors as well as among the peoples of ASEAN.

With the growing ASEAN, we must also find new integrated communication approaches and strategies to make the Communication Plan more effective. We have grown from 5 to 6 to 7 and eventually to 10 member countries and we now have the additional ASEAN plus Three. We must work more closely with one another and explore new ways of making ourselves more functional in promoting regional cooperation. As the Information Committee, you are entrusted to inform the public on what ASEAN is all about. It is therefore one of your ultimate priorities that current and proposed measures be looked into and assessed so that resources are fully utilizes and could benefit the ASEAN community as a whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

During this meeting, I have been made to understand that in addition to announcing on-going project reviews and decisions of previous sessions and meetings of other committees that a set of project proposals are about to be deliberated for the consideration of COCI. I also understand that this session will coincide with the official launching of the ASEAN Youth Online Website, a project of ASEAN COCI. This website will promote the ASEAN consciousnesses, awareness and identity among young people and children in the region as well as encouraging them to towards the use of information technology and enable them to learn more about each of the ASEAN member countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Next month, the ASEAN Ministers responsible for Information will be holding its seventh conference here in Bandar Seri Begawan . We know that the conference will continue its more proactive role to make ASEAN and its activities known. The Ministers have already agreed to undertake and implement national communication plans to raise the public awareness of ASEAN as well as to build up its image internationally. In this conference, we hoped to provide new directions for the cooperation among member countries towards building the confidence of investors as well as projecting the unity, stability and dynamism of ASEAN as befits its theme “Towards Projecting the Unity, Stability and Dynamism of ASEAN in the Global Communications Era”.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Finally, it is my sincere hope that this 4th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information’s Sub-Committee on Information in Bandar Seri Begawan will produce constructive outcome. I wish each and everyone here all the best. I also hoped that you all have a pleasant and memorable stay in Brunei Darussalam. I also hoped to see some or if not all of you, again in October for the 7th AMRI Conference.

With the kalimah “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim”, I officially declare open the “4th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information’s Sub-Committee on Information.

Wabillahit Taufik Walhidayah,
Wassalamu ‘Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
And Thank You.

(c) Pehin Hazair/Rozan Yuno